Car owners in France are being warned about a new scam involving their car registration plates, and authorities in the north of the country have offered advice to help you avoid it.
People targeted by the scam are called by someone that they do not know – sometimes on a withheld number – who tells them that they have caused a minor accident while driving.
Although the victim will have no knowledge of this collision, the scammer will claim that they carried out a ‘hit and run’, damaging their car before driving off, and demand money from them or threaten to go to the authorities.
The scammer will pretend that they got hold of the victim’s telephone number by calling the local prefecture and relating the vehicle’s registration number.
However, Marne prefecture’s spokesperson Romain Miot has told France 3 that: “in the file containing registration numbers, our services do not have access to telephone numbers.
“It is worth stressing that only a demand made by the authorities enables us to communicate the number of one of our residents.”
This type of scam has already been seen in the UK, and is now becoming more common in France.
The police have encouraged anyone affected to report their experience as soon as possible, with as much evidence as they can gather.
Marne’s prefecture has also given some advice to people who are worried about being caught out by the scam:
- It is likely that the scammer will not give details of the place or time at which the supposed accident happened, so watch out for this suspicious inexactness
- Do not share any personal information or photos with a third party
- Do not share your bank details with a third party
- Never call unknown numbers back
- If you are worried that you have given money to a scammer, contact your bank immediately
If you are called by someone you suspect to be a scammer, it may also be worth asking them to tell you the registration number they apparently noted down, as it is unlikely that they will know.
You can report scams on the government’s THESEE platform.